The beat of the bass throbbed in the air as Shepard neared the club. She weaved her way through the crowd until she had found the familiar red armor of her friend at his table, nursing a drink. She slipped into the booth across from the krogan.
"Shepard," he chuckled, rolling the name out and making it sound longer than it was.
Amala rolled her eyes; for some reason he loved to tease her by just saying her name. He told her once it sounded funny to a krogan.
"So what do you have for me?"
"Well, nothing really."
"What the hell you drag me here for then? You know I hate this place."
"I, uh, could use your help again."
"Lose your ancestral armor already Wrex? Really? I thought you would hang onto it better than that," Shepard laughed.
"Very funny, Shepard. No, one of our own has been selling my people. I plan on stopping him."
"What? Krogans make horrible slaves!"
"Tell me something I don't already know. But they are disappearing and are never heard from again."
"I can't believe you need my help with one krogan. Getting soft?"
"Well, maybe it's because he is in a Blue Suns base," he admitted sheepishly.
"Oh hell, Wrex. That's not going to be easy. You have anyone else besides me?"
"No one I trust at my back like you."
Shepard groaned and dropped her head in her hands. She would have to call in numerous favors to be able to help her friend and he knew the slavery button would guarantee she would help him. Her omni-tool alerted that she had an incoming message and she reluctantly opened it up.
'Agent Shepard, something has come up. Please report to the Council chambers immediately.'
Wrex watched a scowl form on her face.
"I have to go; the damn Council - again. I'll try and come up with a team to help you, Wrex. I need a fucking vacation," she muttered before slipping out of the booth.
"Dammit. Contact me when you get back."
"Will do," she said before disappearing into the crowd.
Shepard stumbled into her apartment, hours after she had hoped to be in bed. One last thing and then she could finally sleep. With the touch of a few buttons on the console she activated all the security measures for her apartment. Still dressed, she fell into her bed, and was asleep in minutes.
A tapping on her door stirred her from her slumber. What seemed like having only been asleep for minutes was in reality hours according to the clock on her bedside table. Rolling out of bed, she stumbled over to the door. Slapping the control panel, it opened up to reveal Nihlus standing on the other side. He took in her appearance and tried to mask the noise he made, which could only be described as a laugh. She vainly tried to smooth down her hair, but there wasn't much she could do about her rumpled clothing.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. I was called to the Council while I was out. I swear, they must have lost all their other agents because they keep sending me out as soon as I get in. Tell Saren to pick out whatever weapons he wants and put them in the bag that is in the closet in that room. As soon as I can get more supplies we will be leaving again."
A few taps on her omni-tool and she contacted EDI next.
"Hey EDI, guess what."
"Already? I took the liberty of ordering rations for you and our new friends. All necessary supplies will be waiting at our docking bay in three hours. Shepard, I am a little concerned they are sending you out again. Your time off has been, well, short."
"I know, but I think for this mission we'll take our sweet time. Set a flight path near a planet where we can do some target practice. Obviously with a breathable atmosphere. Sending you the coordinates for our target."
"Aww, there goes my plan to have you walk out of the ship and die horribly."
"You would miss me too much to kill me. We'll be there in a few hours."
EDI had found them a suitable planet and now Shepard took some time to relax in the sun while she watched Saren instruct Nihlus on the finer points of using a gun. He appeared to be a quick study, gaining confidence quickly. A few taps on her omni-tool and a small drone shimmered into view next to her. She then directed it towards the turians.
"Heads up, guys! Here is something that moves to practice on. It only has a mild electrical charge, but it still stings, so you best shoot it first."
They turned to see the drone rapidly approaching them and Saren pulled Nihlus behind some rocks for cover. One of them yelled something at her; it didn't sound very complimentary, but of course she couldn't understand them. 'What a shame', she thought with a grin.
The game of cat and mouse between Nihlus and the drone continued until the drone finally exhausted its energy and disappeared. Shepard spawned another one and directed it at Nihlus once more. And so it went, more drones spawned until Nihlus managed to shoot them while being fired at. That's when it hit Shepard, 'Shit, these guys are basically naked. Fuck, how do I get them some armor?'
While the turians were busy with the latest drone, Shepard sent a quick message to someone who might be able to point her in the right direction.
'Hey, where can I get custom fitted armor made, good quality and no questions asked? - S.'
She waited impatiently for a reply. Seeing the latest drone dissolve, she created another for Nihlus to shoot. The ping of an incoming message diverted her attention, but it only took a second to read it.
'Call me - W.'
She looked up from the message to find that Nihlus had shot the latest drone. He peered cautiously over the edge of the rocks and she gave him a wave.
"You guys had enough for today?"
Nihlus broke cover first, Saren following shortly after. Nihlus's mandibles flared in what she had come to think of as a smile while Saren's were tight against his face.
"Well done, Nihlus! I'm not sure if Saren was that good of a teacher or you just are a natural with a gun. Now we need to find you both some armor. I have a friend who might be able to point us in the right direction."
They followed her back onto the ship, the two turians disappearing into the back to clean the weapons. Amala flopped into the pilot's seat.
"EDI, can you get Wrex on the line, as secure as you can make it?"
"Of course. Oh and I took the liberty of putting in a leave request for you for a month off."
Amala laughed at that, "Right, I can see that happening real fast, because every time I ask for a week off they tell me they are short of agents."
"Yet they granted it this time."
She nearly fell off her chair in surprise. "You're joking, right?"
"No, here is the approval."
Amala scanned it quickly. Upon conclusion of this mission she would be granted a month off. At first, she was elated, but then she had to wonder why they would suddenly grant it. Nothing good came to mind.
"Patching you through now."
"Shepard! Need new armor eh?" Wrex squinted, trying to see Amala better.
"It's not for me."
"What? You're finally going to lead a pyjak revolt!" he said with a deep rumbling laugh.
"Ha. Ha. No, I have a few friends that need armor and it might not be strictly, uh, legal."
"Then you'll have to go to Omega. Though you'll get a better deal if you bring me along," he added with a sly smile. "And from there we can hit Korlus."
"Head to Illium then. I'll contact you when we get there after I take care of my mission for the Council."
"See you there Shepard."
Amala grunted in pain when she dropped into the closest chair. Her pistol lay across her lap while she activated her comm link to the ship.
"EDI, I need someone to bring me more medi-gel. All out. Think everyone is dead, but tell them to come armed just to be sure."
"Understood. Hold on."
She flipped the clasps holding her breastplate together, allowing the now useless item to fall to the floor. She pressed down on her side where it was still oozing blood, which caused her to hiss in pain. The roar overhead announced the arrival of her ship and help. Even better, she could sit here and wait - resting seemed real good right about now. This had been the toughest fight she had in a long time; hell, she couldn't remember a mission going this sideways so quickly before. If she was feeling optimistic, then her target had been warned, and if pessimism reared its head, then this had been a setup from the start. Neither option would ensure a long and healthy life for her.
The whoosh of the door opening brought her out of her thoughts, and even though she suspected it was one or both of the turians, she hadn't made it this far in life by taking chances. Saren peered around the corner with a pistol in his hands. Nihlus followed carefully behind him, carrying the emergency supplies from the ship. Saren prodded the body closest to him with a foot while Nihlus hurried to Amala's side.
"I think I got them all, but I was a little distracted at the end, so it might not be a bad idea for you to check my work. If you find one that is alive enough for questioning, save him for me."
He nodded and stepped carefully among the dead, checking each one before moving onto the next. Shepard wasted no time stripping the top of her under suit down until the wound could be seen. Before she could even say anything Nihlus was already there, pressing more medi-gel over the wound, bringing a sigh of relief as it went to work.
"Thanks. Best stuff ever invented."
Now that her side wasn't on fire anymore she could begin the next phase of her mission - collecting all the data devices. Nihlus watched her for a moment before he joined in. She threw him a grateful smile and fired up her program in order to scan for any hidden compartments.
She was elbow deep in a server, ripping out the drives, when she heard an excited call. She followed the noise until she found them, standing in front of a locked door. Saren had the control panel open as he tried to bypass the system on it, but so far, his efforts had only resulted in growls of frustration. She tapped him on the shoulder.
"Let me try. I have several hacking programs a friend made."
He stepped back and she began to work on the panel. Finally, the door slid open. Instead of valuables, weapons, or some other high value item, they found that this room had been turned into a prison. The smell pointed to at least some, if not all, of the prisoners being dead.
"What in hell were they doing here?" she muttered.
They were chained against the wall and Shepard began the distasteful job of checking for survivors. Nihlus and Saren waited just outside the door, watching as Shepard went around the room. The first turian she came to was dead, along with a human and a salarian. Removal of bodies had not been a priority, it seemed.
Nihlus rushed across the room, causing Shepard to look up in confusion, but then she saw why. At least one prisoner still lived, a turian. His mandibles fluttered and he glanced from Nihlus, to Saren, to her, obviously not quite believing what he was seeing. Saren joined Nihlus and together they freed him from his shackles.
"Get him back to the ship. I'll finish gathering what I came for and meet you guys back there."
They worked to half carry, half walk him out. Nihlus talked in low soothing tones, with an occasional comment from Saren. As soon as they were gone, Shepard turned to the dead turian. She had to hunt a bit for the telltale bump of the implant, but once she found it, she drew her utility blade. She had barely cut into the flesh when the implant self-destructed. Her reflexes caused her to rock back, but she wasn't fast enough to avoid being hit by some pieces of bloody flesh.
"Well, fuck," she growled.
She cleaned herself up as best as she could before returning to her work.
~Thanks to Mordinette, my beta, for all your help! And thanks to my readers for all the reviews, follows, etc.~